Donald Trump Busts Out the Anti-Vaxxer Talk, And Ben Carson Partially Signs On

Anti-vaxxer sentiment reared its head at Wednesday night's debate, when Jake Tapper brought up the question of one of Donald Trump's less-discussed lies, asking Ben Carson—a retired pediatric neurosurgeon—whether Trump should stop pushing the completely false link between vaccines and autism. Carson started well enough, pointing out that "there have been numerous studies, and they have not demonstrated that there is any correlation between vaccinations and autism." But then he veered off the rails a little, clearly not wanting to alienate anyone too much, and when the question was kicked over to Trump, Trump unleashed his usual torrent of falsehood:

I am totally in favor of vaccines. But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time. Because you take a baby in -- and I've seen it -- and I've seen it, and I had my children taken care of over a long period of time, over a two or three year period of time.

Same exact amount, but you take this little beautiful baby, and you pump -- I mean, it looks just like it's meant for a horse, not for a child, and we've had so many instances, people that work for me.

Just the other day, two years old, two and a half years old, a child, a beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back, and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.

Yeahhhh ... and did a seven-foot doctor tell you this? But Trump's gonna be Trump. What's disturbing is that Carson then rushed to pander, saying:

the fact of the matter is, we have extremely well-documented proof that there's no autism associated with vaccinations. But it is true that we are probably giving way too many in too short a period of time.

And a lot of pediatricians now recognize that, and, I think, are cutting down on the number and the proximity in which those are done, and I think that's appropriate.

No. No, it's not. Reality:

Again, the CDC schedule is calibrated to give children the most protection from the most diseases as early and safely as possible. And that second part? That's flat out false.

The only pediatricians who promote delaying vaccines are the irresponsible oneswho would leave children more vulnerable to disease for longer. The policy statements of the AAP make it very clear that the largest organization of pediatricians in the U.S. supports the CDC schedule, does not support any delayed schedule, and wants to help pediatricians in ensuring that all the children in their practice are fully protected.

Ben Carson clearly knows better than what he's saying, but he's so invested in being agreeable and not pissing anyone off that he's making the bargain of sticking firm on the science around autism and vaccines while getting wobbly on something he thinks might be less harmful than forgoing vaccination outright. But it's still wrong, and it shows something about the kind of can't-be-pushed-around, committed-to-truth president he would not be. As for Trump, is there anydangerous, damaging idea he won't go for full throttle?

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